In March 2011, the military forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad cracked down on protestors seeking government reforms. Violence between police and demonstrators sparked a rebel movement seeking to ouster Assad, and the nation soon became embroiled in an ongoing civil war that’s left millions displaced. Peace talks between opposition leaders and Assad’s government have repeatedly broken down as the people of Syria continue to suffer.
In the more than three years since anti-Assad protests first ignited the civil war, atrocities have been committed on both sides. Here’s a look at major events in the conflict so far and their impact on the growing number of refugees:
March 2011: Unrest Begins
As the Arab Spring sweeps across the Middle East, protestors gather in Damascus and Deraa to call for reforms. The protests escalate after security forces shoot a few of the protestors.
July 2011: Free Syrian Army Forms
A group of defected Syrian Army officers officially form the Free Syrian Army to fight against Assad’s forces. The FSA takes over control of certain areas, clashing regularly with government forces.
August 2012: War Crimes Committed on Both Sides
The U.N. Human Rights Council accuses the Syrian military of war crimes. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch investigates rebel forces for executing captured government soldiers.
February 2013: 80+ Killed in Damascus Bombings
A series of car bombs explode in Damascus, killing 83 people and injuring over 200 in one of the war’s deadliest bombings. According to Voice of America, most of the victims were civilians.
May 2013: 1.5 Million Syrians Now Refugees
UNHCR, the U.N.’s refugee agency, announces that at least 1.5 million Syrians have fled the country. 4 million more have been internally displaced.
August 2013: 1,400+ Killed in Chemical Attack
Government forces launch rockets containing deadly chemicals into several opposition controlled areas in Damascus. The international community condemns the attacks.
September 2013: Syria Agrees to Hand Over Chemical Weapons
Syria and the U.S. agree on a timeline for the Syrian government to destroy its chemical weapons. As of March, Syria had given over about a third of its chemical weapons supply.
###Those Effected By the Numbers:
###The Syrian People
Victims of: Ongoing violence, mass displacement, collapse of infrastructure and health care system
126,000+ killed in the conflict
40 percent of Syria’s pre-war population has been displaced
2 Million are refugees in neighboring countries
Victims of: Abductions, sexual violence, combat recruitment, torture, use as human shields
1 Million+ children are refugees
40 percent of Syrian children are not currently attending school
11,000 children have been killed in the conflict. Some were specifically targeted or used as human shields
Victims of: Targeted attacks, forced conversions, the destruction of churches
450,000+ Christians fled home
10 percent of the Syrian population are Christians
Over 60 Christian churches and monasteries have been destroyed
###Organizations on the Ground
These organizations are helping the Syrian people during the conflict:
World Vision Advocating for the protection of Syrian children
The World Food Programme Providing monthly food assistance to millions in Syria
Save the Children Supporting child refugees and their families